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Shanghai's historic WWII Jewish cafe to be rebuilt

2015-02-04 08:56 Shanghai Daily Web Editor: Qian Ruisha

Hongkou District government will rebuild a cafe and renovate several historic buildings that served as iconic spots for Jewish refugees during World War II even as the city plans to have it inscribed as UNESCO Memory of the World Register.

Shanghai was home to about 20,000 Jewish refugees fleeing Nazi persecution. Many of them lived in the Tilanqiao area of Hongkou District.

The city has completed collation of the refugee list, data bank, literary, video and audio material, said Chen Jian, curator of the Shanghai Jewish Refugees Museum that is working with the Hongkou District government on the UNESCO application.

This year is the 70th anniversary of the end of the World Anti-Fascist War and China's victory against the Japanese aggression.

Apart from the world memory application, Shanghai has also announced plans to rebuild a cafe where Jewish refugees socialized during their sojourn in the city.

The Wiener Cafe Restaurant, which first opened in 1939, will be rebuilt in a new location on Changyang Road opposite to the Shanghai Jewish Refugees Museum. It will be recreated with it original look, Chen said.

The three-story wooden and brick structure that combined Western and Eastern architecture served as a popular shelter for Jewish residents living nearby.

The owner sold the cafe to a local after the war. It was demolished in 2009 to make room for a subway.

"We have kept the building's blue prints and key components such as beams and some wooden curving on walls for the rebuilding," Chen said.

After the reopening, the first floor will be a cafe while the upper floors will hold exhibitions, he said.

Construction will begin soon and is expected to be completed by August.

The district government will also renovate the office of the Jewish Distribution Center, which helped Jews living in the city.

The former residence of Michael Blumenthal, a Jewish refugee who later served as curator of the Jewish Museum in Berlin and a former US Secretary of the Treasury, will also be renovated with introductions on the house, Chen said.

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